New Data Suggests Americans Are Leaving Soda Behind

Policy and market changes have been attributed to the changes.

Soda consumption is plummeting in cities across the United States as sales taxes and changes to the McDonald's menu has incentivized Americans away from the sugary drinks.

In Philadelphia, a sales tax on soda has helped reduce sales by 51 percent since 2017. In nearby towns, without a tax, soda sales went up, according to a report published in the medical journal JAMA


But it's not just Philadelphia. McDonald's announced this week that 48 percent of its global customer base ordered milk, water or juice as their beverage choice. In 2013, that number was 36 percent. McDonald's attributed the decline to a change in its menu: it moved carbonated sodas off of the Happy Meals menu board.

"We're making real progress offering and promoting balanced choices in Happy Meals around the world,"  Julia Braun, head of global nutrition at McDonald's Corp, told Nation's Restaurant News. "This work measures and demonstrates the positive impact we're having as we build a better McDonald's and use our scale as a force for good."

In Berkeley, California, residents saw similar results after the implementation of a tax on sugary drinks. A 2019 study suggested consumption dropped 52 percent on sugary drinks since 2015.

The medical community has linked sugary drinks to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, among other health issues. A reduction of sugary drink consumption across America could reduce the prevalence of those health conditions, experts have said.

"We have tried, and failed, to curb sugary drink intake through education and individual choices alone," Natalie Muth, a pediatrician and registered dietitian in California, told CNN. "Just like policy changes were necessary and effective in reducing consumption of tobacco and alcohol, we need policy changes that will help reduce sugary drink consumption in children and adolescents."


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